The biggest local stories of 2019: Part 3

The Record-Herald

In this Record-Herald file photo from Aug. 23, firefighters and police responded to a house fire on Temple Street. Although no injuries were reported, flames did cause damage to a neighboring home through windows that busted out during the fire.

In this Record-Herald file photo from Aug. 23, firefighters and police responded to a house fire on Temple Street. Although no injuries were reported, flames did cause damage to a neighboring home through windows that busted out during the fire.

As 2019 just came to a close and 2020 has begun, the Record-Herald is reviewing the year’s biggest news and sports stories.


In early July, following the loss of access to various programs on the Fayette County electronic network from a Malware infiltration on June 23, county employees were steadily regaining access to their emails and information. The Malware that was detected was “Ransomware” and it caused county employees to lose access to their county email and various information. County offices that were impacted and unable to provide services to the public had at the time regained some of that access back.

On July 3, three Washington C.H. residents were facing multiple drug-related felony charges after police found methamphetamine and cocaine during a traffic stop. Just after midnight in the 1700 block of Sunset Drive, Washington Police Department officers made the traffic stop on a vehicle for having no taillights, according to reports. Due to the criminal drug history of the three individuals inside the vehicle, police requested assistance to search the vehicle from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer, “Odra.” Odra “indicated on both driver’s side and passenger side doors,” police reports stated. Police advised the front seat passenger, Juan R. Mclavin, 36, of 1019 Golfview Drive, to exit the vehicle. He was then arrested on a Highland County Sheriff’s Office warrant. Both the driver, Jaime Metcalfe, 39, of 625 Lewis St., and the rear passenger side occupant, Ryan J. Seymour, 41, of 1612 Sunset Drive, exited the vehicle and were searched by police.

On July 14, a fire occurred at The Willow restaurant, located at 203 Glenn Ave. in Washington C.H. Firefighters from several departments worked to extinguish the blaze, which began in the kitchen area, according to reports. The fire was reported at approximately 8:33 p.m. and was under control at 9:47 p.m., according to the Washington Fire Department.

Finally on July 20, Aubrey Schwartz was named the Overall Showman during the 2019 Fayette County Junior Fair Showman of Showmen competition. After a week of work from many exhibitors, one of the tightest competitions was held during the afternoon at the Hog Pavilion and Sales Arena on the Fayette County Fairgrounds. As the Junior Fair progresses, most species on the grounds name an Overall Showman which will represent theirs at the competition. After about two hours in the heat, Schwartz walked away with her first-ever win at the show. “I have gotten second for two years and finally I was able to win,” Schwartz — the nine year 4-H participant said following the competition. “I have two years left, next year is my senior year and I have the option to do another because of my birthday. I might stick around but it is not looking too good, that’s college.”


On Aug. 4, a gunman in body armor opened fire in a popular entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people, including his sister, and wounding dozens of others before he was quickly slain by police, city officials said. Connor Betts, 24, was killed by police less than a minute after he started shooting a .223-caliber rifle in the streets of Dayton’s historic Oregon District about 1 a.m. in the second U.S. mass shooting in less than 24 hours. Police had not released further information about Betts or publicly discussed a motive at the time. His 22-year-old sister Megan was the youngest of the dead — all killed in the same area of bars, restaurants and theaters that is considered a safe area downtown, police said.

A Dayton man was facing multiple criminal charges after he allegedly fled from Washington C.H. police while possessing methamphetamine and other drugs. While on a call for service at Jenni Lane Apartments at 11:20 p.m. on Aug. 9, officers with the Washington Police Department observed a vehicle driving erratically toward them, according to reports. Officers attempted to get the driver’s attention to stop the vehicle by gesturing and shining flashlights. The vehicle continued toward the dead end corner of the apartment complex at a high rate of speed. As one of the officers ran after the vehicle, the driver allegedly got out of the vehicle and fled on foot. The other officers joined in the pursuit and told the man to stop. He was reportedly advised a taser would be deployed if he didn’t comply. He continued running eastbound on the south side sidewalk until finally giving up and going to the ground on his belly, police said. While police took him into custody, the subject was identified as Keenan D. Lee, 27.

A 19-year-old female reported missing from Washington Court House in August was found safe in the state of Tennessee on Aug. 16, according to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO). Cheronda Janel Bellar was reported missing after being last seen on the morning of July 22 at the McDonald’s on South Elm Street. The FCSO was asking the public for information concerning Bellar’s whereabouts. It was discovered that Bellar was being held in the Knox County Jail in Knoxville, Tennessee. According to the FCSO, she was arrested July 23 — the day after she left Washington C.H. — for possession of drugs.

On Aug. 25, the Washington Police Department received confirmation on the location of a Washington Court House woman who had been missing for a week. According to a WPD report taken, officer Edwin Stapleton made contact via phone with the Ohio Hospital for Psychiatry in Columbus. The person on the phone (named Dave in the report) advised that 20-year-old Carley Phillips was a patient at the hospital and had been since Aug. 20. The report states that she is still there and is currently seeking treatment. As previously reported, Phillips — who was last seen on Saturday, Aug. 17 in the Washington Court House area — went missing after her family said she requested a ride from Greenfield on Friday and left on Saturday with two males and a female. According to police reports, on Aug. 20 — the same day the missing persons report was filed — Phillips’ grandmother said she received a text message from Phillips, who said she was alright but then received no additional responses. The report also stated that at the time nothing had been said about Phillips being in any danger.


On Sept. 9, construction for the splash pad in Washington Court House officially began with the groundbreaking that took place, although its exact location had slightly altered. A splash pad is a recreation area for water play that has little or no standing water. The pad was being constructed off Eyman Park Drive near the location of the old city pool, which closed several years ago. While the exact location was previously planned to be close to both Lakeview Avenue and the bike path near the existing shelter house, the exact area it is now being constructed in is closer to the parking lot. David Kiger, a member of the Fayette County Park District Board, explained the exact location was changed due to concrete in the ground. Had they built the pad where initially planned, it would have cost more to get through that concrete which was leftover from when a pool was present.

In mid-September, local historian and retired Washington High School teacher Paul LaRue, Washington Cemetery and the City of Washington C.H. were all featured in a video documenting the work of LaRue’s previous students and the work’s impact going forward. Thanks to the efforts of these students in LaRue’s Washington High School research history class, the names of more than 100 African-American troops will be added to the Civil War Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument in downtown Cleveland. The significant addition to the monument’s Roll of Honor is the result of nearly 20 years of historical research and verification work using modern methods. It began in 2002 with LaRue and his advanced placement history class students.

As of Sept. 15, Washington C.H. Police Department Chief Brian Hottinger was recovering at home from serious injuries he sustained during a one-vehicle accident when he was ejected from his Jeep Wrangler. Hottinger, 55, was released from Grant Medical Center in Columbus. Just before 5 p.m. on Sept. 13, he was driving his 1995 Jeep Wrangler westbound on Greenfield-Sabina Road in Perry Township, 500 feet west of Barrett Road. According to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office report, Hottinger, the sole occupant of the vehicle, “failed to maintain full time and attention.” The Jeep left the roadway to the right, struck a ditch, struck a fence and then struck two trees. Hottinger was ejected from the vehicle when it struck the ditch, according to reports.

Finally in September, “The Cadillac Three,” an American Southern rock group, performed during the 2019 Scarecrow Festival in downtown Washington Court House. The band brought a ton of energy and the crowd enjoyed every song.

This is the third part in a series of four, covering July through September, that reflects on important 2019 news and sports stories that ran in the Record-Herald. Stay with the Record-Herald for the final part in the Jan 3, 2020 edition of the paper.

In this Record-Herald file photo from Aug. 23, firefighters and police responded to a house fire on Temple Street. Although no injuries were reported, flames did cause damage to a neighboring home through windows that busted out during the fire. this Record-Herald file photo from Aug. 23, firefighters and police responded to a house fire on Temple Street. Although no injuries were reported, flames did cause damage to a neighboring home through windows that busted out during the fire.

The Record-Herald